ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 9 — April 25, 2012

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Registration

SOR/2012-75 April 3, 2012

HEALTH OF ANIMALS ACT

Regulations Amending the Reportable Diseases Regulations

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, pursuant to subsection 2(2) of the Health of Animals Act (see footnote a), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Reportable Diseases Regulations.

Ottawa, April 3, 2012

GERRY RITZ
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE REPORTABLE
DISEASES REGULATIONS

AMENDMENT

1. The reference to

highly pathogenic avian influenza
influenza aviaire hautement pathogène

in the schedule to the Reportable Diseases Regulations (see footnote 1) is replaced by the following:

highly pathogenic avian influenza and low pathogenicity avian influenza — subtypes H5 and H7

influenza aviaire hautement pathogène et influenza aviaire faiblement pathogène — sous-types H5 et H7

COMING INTO FORCE

2. These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issue

Avian influenza (AI), often called “bird flu,” is a highly infectious and contagious viral infection that affects several species of food-producing birds (chicken, turkey, etc.) as well as pets and wild birds. The virus may on rare occasions cause disease in humans. AI is caused by many different strains of the virus and the severity of the disease changes with the strain of the virus and the bird species affected. Based on the severity of the illness caused in birds, AI viruses can be classified as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI). Most AI viruses are of low pathogenicity and cause few or no signs of illness in infected birds, compared to highly pathogenic viruses, which are rare but can cause severe illness and death in birds. Though the prevalence and distribution of AI is difficult to determine, sporadic and infrequent outbreaks in domestic poultry occur worldwide, making this a disease of international concern. Canada’s most significant outbreak of AI occurred in 2004 in Fraser Valley, British Columbia, with economic losses from the outbreak estimated at more than $300 million. Isolated cases of LPAI have been reported since 1960 with the most recent case occurring in November 2010 in Manitoba.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), of which Canada is a member, sets international standards for the prevention, control and eradication of animal diseases of significance, such as AI. It manages the World Animal Health Information System based on the commitment of member countries to notify the OIE of listed diseases for which regulatory control is required. OIE standards also serve as the sole international reference standards for animal health, adopted for international trade in animals and animal products under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The conditions under which avian influenza viruses are subject to OIE notification are set out in the OIE’s Terrestrial Animal Health Code which members are encouraged to follow when dealing with their trading partners. In Canada, statutory authority for the control of AI is contained in the Health of Animals Act (HAA) and the Reportable Diseases Regulations (RDR). The RDR, made pursuant to the HAA, prescribe certain diseases as reportable. The HAA requires owners or anyone caring for or having control over animals, including veterinarians or anyone analyzing animal specimens, to immediately notify a veterinary inspector of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) when the person suspects the presence of one of the reportable diseases or becomes aware of any facts suggesting its presence. The CFIA will take action to either control or eradicate an outbreak based on a program agreed to by stakeholders, once the disease is reported, and will notify the OIE.

The OIE, based on new knowledge that most cases of HPAI begin as LPAI before mutating to HPAI with time, has updated the notification requirements for AI to include, besides HPAI, LPAI of the subtypes H5 and H7. Though the CFIA responds to cases of LPAI, LPAI is not currently listed in the RDR. This non-compliance with OIE standards could be viewed by trading partners as the absence of regulatory control over LPAI in Canada. This view has already been expressed by the European Commission in their 2009 evaluation of Canadian health controls for poultry and poultry products destined for export to the European Union. Non-compliance with the OIE standard for avian influenza in the RDR puts Canada at risk of losing export shares in the market for poultry and poultry products.

Objectives

The objective of this proposal is to align the subtypes of AI listed in the RDR with the OIE standard in order to protect Canada’s poultry and poultry products from potential import restrictions by its major international trading partners.

Description and rationale

The HAA, among other objectives, targets the control and elimination of diseases in Canada that either might affect human health or could have a significant effect on the Canadian livestock industry. The RDR, made pursuant to the Act, contain a list of reportable diseases. The HAA requires owners (or anyone caring for or having control over animals), veterinarians or laboratories to immediately notify a veterinary inspector of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) when the person suspects one of the diseases listed in the RDR is present or when the person becomes aware of any fact indicating the disease’s presence. Failure to comply with this requirement is an offence under the HAA and can result in the denial of compensation if animals are ordered destroyed or the recovery of costs relating to the control of a disease outbreak. These Regulations are intended to provide Canada with a national regulatory framework governing the reporting and management of animal diseases which meets international standards.

This amendment updates the listing of AI in the RDR to reflect current international standards set by the OIE in order to ensure that Canada remains effective in managing AI and meets international AI trade standards.

Consultation

Updating the RDR to reflect the current OIE standard does not change the scope of what is included in existing applied animal disease response activities. It simply provides regulatory authority to require reporting to the CFIA of LPAI subtypes H5 and H7. Under current Canadian animal health and disease control policies and programs, the CFIA responds to these LPAI subtypes as diseases of concern with timely and appropriate actions to eliminate them before they become HPAI.

An information package was sent to provincial/territorial chief veterinary officers and to poultry industry stakeholder groups in August of 2011, explaining the proposed regulatory change and soliciting their comments about the proposal. Responses collected over a two-week period, following the initial request for comments, indicated overwhelming support for the regulatory change. Two requests for clarifications were received from some provincial veterinary officers and these have been addressed.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

The amendment will not change the current normal diagnostic and surveillance activities carried out by the provincial and federal agency laboratories. However, animal owners/handlers and veterinarians will have to be informed of the amendment to the list of reportable diseases. Failure to report a reportable disease is an offence under section 65 of the Health of Animals Act and could result in denial of compensation for animals or things destroyed or the recovery of costs relating to the control of a disease outbreak.

Contact

Abed Harchaoui
Veterinary Program Specialist
Terrestrial Animal Health Division
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Camelot Court
59 Camelot Drive, Floor 3 E, Room 206
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0Y9
Telephone: 613-773-7449
Fax: 613-773-7574

Footnote a
S.C. 1990, c. 21

Footnote 1
SOR/91-2